Thursday, June 30, 2022

Trump not verbally briefed on Russia bounty matter: WH

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[NFA] White House national security adviser Robert O’Brien on Wednesday said that President Donald Trump was not verbally briefed on a reported Russian effort to pay the Taliban to kill U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan because the intelligence was not corroborated at the time. Colette Luke has more.

President Donald Trump was not verbally briefed on a reported Russian effort to pay the Taliban to kill U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan because the intelligence was not corroborated at the time.

That’s according to White House National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien on Wednesday.

O’Brien attributed the decision not to brief the president to a senior civil servant in the Central Intelligence Agency.

“She made that decision because she didn’t have confidence in the intelligence that came out. We get raw intelligence and tactical intelligence everyday, hundreds of pieces of intelligence every day, thousands of pieces of intelligence coming in a week. She made the call and you know what, I think she made the right call.”

O’Brien, however, declined to say whether the intelligence, which U.S. ally Britain also has said it was aware of, had been included in a written presidential briefing earlier this year.

But he added that the U.S. will respond strongly if the findings are proven to be true.

“These are important allegations that and if they’re verified I can guarantee you the president will take strong action. We’ve been working for several months on options for the President of the United States in the event that this uncorroborated evidence that the Department of Defense calls it, turns out to be true. It may now be impossible to get to the bottom of this because some government official somewhere decided to leak allegations before we had a chance to get to the bottom of it and we may never get to the truth of the matter now and that’s really a shame.”

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo echoed O’Brien’s words saying that the U.S. handled the intelligence correctly.

“I can assure you that whatever reporting it is that you are referring to, that we responded in precisely the correct way with respect to making sure that our forces were postured appropriately, that they were aware of the level of the threat, the credibility of the threat/ the fact that the Russians are engaged in Afghanistan in a way that is adverse to the United States is nothing new.”

President Trump has faced blistering criticism in recent days after the New York Times reported that U.S. intelligence had information about a Russian military plot to offer bounties for U.S. and allied soldiers and that Trump received a written briefing on the matter in February. 

Trump on Wednesday repeated his claim that the story is a hoax, tweeting:

“The Russia Bounty story is just another made up by Fake News tale that is told only to damage me and the Republican Party. The secret source probably does not even exist, just like the story itself. If the discredited @nytimes has a source, reveal it. Just another hoax!”

The suggestion that Trump may have ignored or not known about possible threat to U.S. troops could damage him as he seeks re-election on Nov. 3.

On Thursday, the Gang of Eight that includes intelligence committee lawmakers and congressional leaders like U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Republican Senate Leader Mitch McConnell are expected to be briefed by intelligence officials on the Russia bounty matter. 

  • Date: 07/01/2020 06:12 PM

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